Dermal Implants Means Strapless Watch


Google Glass is a year or so out, and even after that we’re still looking at about five years until we’re all upgraded at the behest of our robotic overlords. [justurn] simply can’t wait, so he decided to submit to the cybermen early with his Android-controlled wristwatch attached with dermal implants.

[justurn]’s got the inspiration for his project from this earlier Hackaday post involving dermal implants and an iPod nano. The iPod nano doesn’t have a whole lot of functionality, though, but the Sony SmartWatch does, and without the inevitable accusations of fanboyism.

To prep his arm for the hardware upgrade, [justurn] had four titanium dermal anchors placed in his wrist. After letting his anchors heal for a few months, [justurn] installed very strong neo magnets in the bases for his anchors and the clip for the SmartWatch’s strap.

The result is a magnetically mounted, Android-controlled watch semi-permanently attached to [justurn] at the wrist. We love it too.

107 thoughts on “Dermal Implants Means Strapless Watch

    1. Yeah. man, that old watch I had with a normal strap is like *impossible* to take off. I have no idea how people do it. I had to go to the doctor and have them use a saw to get it off. Thank jeebus, because it was almost 3 years old and it was going out of style. I knew someone someday would invent a removable watch.

      1. So what you are saying is my really expensive watch could fall into a sewer if a stranger brushes by me in the street. Ok not really, but I have managed to fling a metal clippy watch off of my wrist before. I guess its for people who don’t move around a lot? You’d probably have to remove something like this on job sites where loose jewelry/chains are not allowed. Or pretty much anytime you engage in sports.

        Also, no one wears watches anymore except for fashion… What does this even do that a cell phone cant? Or google glasses. I already need to wear glasses, I dont think I want surgery to wear a watch?

        1. “Also, no one wears watches anymore except for fashion…”
          Huh. I guess my crappy Casio is a fashion statement.
          *Or* it could be because it’s a hell of a lot easier and faster to look at my wrist rather than dig my phone out of my pocket.

          1. I still wear a wrist watch & an analog one at that. So I can see what time it is when the sun is shining. The $6(now$12) dollar watch-it brand from Walmart is a fashion statement of sorts I guess.

        2. >Also, no one wears watches anymore except for fashion… What does this even do that a cell phone cant? Or google glasses. I already need to wear glasses, I dont think I want surgery to wear a watch?

          if youd read or did the slightest bit of research before you posted, you would know that the Sony Smartwatch is a companion to your cell phone. Providing two way communications via Bluetooth to act as a second screen/alternative interface to the device in your pocket.

          noone says you need to have surgery to wear this watch. but from experience, you wont want to take it off once youve used and rely on one.

        3. Buy an automatic watch (seiko 5) with a clear back. Watch its beautiful mechanism running tickticktickticktick instead of the usual boring tick-tick-tick. Never look back.

        4. Dermal anchors are fashionable among the body-piercing people. They compete (though they’ll say they don’t, and it’s all an expression of individuaaaaaaetc) to see who can have the biggest, grossest and bloodiest ones. The watch will be in the lead for this week, but it’s only a matter of days before someone attaches one to his nutbag.

        5. “Also, no one wears watches anymore except for fashion”

          What idiot told you that stupid nonsense. I specifically wear a watch so that I can see what time it is when I want to know. Stop listening to the lies of marketeers and start using your brain to analyze what they are saying, whether the statements make sense or not.

      2. Clearly you never worked with Neodymium magnets before! When you get two of them stuck together (even if much smaller than the ones used in this project), they are really hard to separate. I have a wallet using a pair of magnets more or less the same dimensions and trust me, they are strong! This guy here does not have one, he has 4 pairs of them!!

          1. After reading more posts, it sounds as though the implants remain above the skin and the magnets are on top of those. If that is the case, then there won’t be a whole lot of pain issues. However, individuals with such implants should stay clear of junkyards with large electro magnets that are used to lift junked autos and move them around.

  1. Any time I read about dermal implants for magnetic anchoring, I have to wonder about the resulting damage from pinching tissue between two points. I don’t see it addressed in his instructable post anywhere, anyone else have a thought on it?

    1. I imagine you’d have the exact same reaction that your fingers do when you use them for things that requires good finger strength. At first you’d make the skin raw and sensitive, then it may start to bleed without any signs of cuts, and eventually callous build up that protect your skin from further damage. Pretty much the same process I went through in my first couple years of playing guitar.

      Just look at your feet for a moment. That’s over a hundred pounds pressing skin and muscle tissue between the bone and ground of varying hardness. I seriously doubt our bodies will have much problem with the force exerted by small magnets.

      1. Neodymium magnets are STRONG. They can cause severe injury due to pinching If the magnets were below the skin, there could very well be damage caused, but the magnets are above the skin, so it should be fine.

      2. You do not have constant pressure on your feet when walking.

        I can walk for 5 hours straight, but my feet start hurting if i have to stand still for half an hour or so.

        Constant pressure is bad since it forces the blood away from the area, alternating pressure isn’t really bad at all since it allows for blood flow, the blood flow can even be enhanced by varying pressure such as walking, or a massage.

    2. The magnets are strong, but the fields fall off rapidly. At the spacing he is using and the size of magnets he is using, any pinching action is negligible, especially since all of the magnets are parallel with each other. Also, the magnets are over the skin, so there’s no pinching between the device and skin. The worst case is there will be some tugging when putting the watch on and taking it off. And since it’s a titanium anchor, and the magnets are removable, MRI’s should be okay as long as he doesn’t forget to remove the magnets first.

    3. That’s a problem with subdermal magnetic implants, even a very weak force continuously on the skin will cause blood flow problems, just look at bedsores. And if you want an experiment you can try at home get a couple of small disc magnets, just about strong enough to stay in place on either side of your earlobe, leave them there for an hour or so and you should be feeling some quite real pain. DO NOT USE MAGNETS THAT ARE TOO STRONG…

      This seems to be implants that go through the skin. In this case i would be much more concerned about bacteria making it’s way into the body where the metal pierces the skin.

        1. … I mean i guess that is relevant if you are trying to imply that someday Sony is going to pull the plug on all third party plugins and means to code your own apps via the SDK for the Smartwatch, forced via a firmware update that currently can only be performed by the user initiating the update via the android app…

          this seems unlikely to me (an again optional/opted in by the user), but if you still hold a grudge about your gaming console, i cant help you there. poor decisions and marketing reasons have crippled devices across the board, and not just from one (Sony) manufacturer. while i agree removing linux support from the PS3 was an questionable move (even though i was completely unaffected), that decision made regarding an unrelated product/line did not really weigh on my purchase of this device which is leading its class in functionality. frankly, i dont feel as though linux on PS3 and this seems particularly related.

          i do sleep a little better at night (and maybe you will too!) knowing i didnt pay anywhere near MSRP, but that goes for just about any product i choose to purchase :)

          1. I think it might be important to point out that Sony is so big they might be vastly different heads and project managers than the guys who do Sony consoles?

            I think i read somewhere they even sued themselves without realizing it, their that big.

      1. Once a company several times secretively installed crap on my system to spy or cripple it.. I simply don’t care anymore about how ‘useful’ their stuff is. (and I’m not even talking about the much talked about stuff they pulled, like the rootkit and the CD-auto-install stuff)
        And for instance, I’m sure their nice SDK will install hidden services for DRM and tracking and such, and never remove them again no matter if you remove the SDK.

        I’m done with sony, even though I acknowledge they make technically nice stuff often enough, and also while acknowledging that I can’t avoid sony parts, like camera sensors.

  2. And that’s better then a strap how?

    You’re still putting a useless gadget on your wrist (or at least most people would be since smartphones are pretty much a standard must-have gadget these days).

    1. I’m not interested in this nor would ever do it, but I do know that I don’t like straps on my wrist, annoys me. So perhaps there are people that have that but don’t mind implants? (yeah it’s far-fetched, but we have 7+ billion people so who knows).

      Anyway like so many HaD projects it revolves around the ‘neat’ness factor really.

  3. It seems the only thing going through the skin are titanium anchors. The magnets screw into these anchors on the outside. So no worries about bedsore-like issues. Or subdermal magnets ripping out of your arm in an MRI machine.

    Still, I pass too.

    1. The video on the magnetic base product shows the anchors quite well.

      The anchor itself seems to be okay, but the magnetic cap that screws into it will stick out and could catch on things. Ripping out potentially four, 8mmx4mm sub dermal anchors could be a little nasty.

      Very tempting though (for other jewellery, glasses etc), but infections are gong to problematic as well.

    1. I have one of those for my wedding ring. It’s a nice ring to fiddle with, and more than one of my friends and colleagues has said that they’re tempted to renew their vows just so they have an excuse to get one too.

      1. my now wife bought me one of those as an engagement ring, and while they’re super cool, i have tiny spindly fingers. the ring itself is crazy thick compared to them, and made wearing it pretty uncomfortable.

          1. The reason I’m not getting this for my wedding ring (currently engaged), is that my parents had to have rings resized or cut off (due to swolen knuckles) countless times during my childhood. How exactly would one resize a gear ring? If you cut it I’m fairly certain it’d be game over too. I’m considering a tungsten carbide ring, but I’m hesitant about it since you’d need a diamond saw blade to cut it off in an emergency.

          2. @blufires if you work somewhere that may cause an impact to your ring, then reconsider tungsten carbide. They have a risk of shattering when struck, and I know someone who has a few nasty scars from getting a piece of metal stock dropped on their hand. Try titanium instead. It’s what I have for my wedding ring, and I’ve had it keep a fridge from crushing my hand when moving.

            @arnold: sorry for the reply, hit the max nesting depth.

  4. I’m going to wait a few more decades. Genetic engineering in humans will be commonplace and vectors (viral or nanotech) won’t be difficult to obtain in the diy community. I’ll just copy/pasta my curly pubic hair to my wrists and use Velcro to fix a watch.

  5. So you place titanium “nuts” under the skin (with holes in them, for the flesh to heal through, to anchor them so as to fight against the body’s natural defences which are designed to reject foreign objects). You leave them for 2-3 months for the body to merge with them and then you screw in a magnetic bolt. It sounds to me like infections are going to happen, but then again I will freely admit that I’m not a fan of body modification – but to each their own.

    1. Interestingly, this is part of the reason titanium is used so often in medical procedures: the body doesn’t mind them nearly so much. It might be something interesting to look into to find out exactly why the body doesn’t reject the titanium. Add that it’s strong, durable, and largely inert (non-ferromagnetic) and it’s fairly ideal for this sort of task. The risk should be far lower than one would reasonably expect, and above he notes he’s gone 9 months with no issues.

    2. You can get little infections, the site around the dermal usually gets a little red for a day or so and then calms down. I’ve had one in the back of my neck since April 2008, and I havn’t had any problems with it.

  6. These are transdermal! Yuck!
    When the face of Fashion is pulled off it’s ugly.
    Someday they will sell us “let your guts hang out” interspersed with led bling and bits of metal.

  7. If I were to attempt a magnetic mounting like this, I think I would rather just go with two surface piercings on the wrist with curved barbells in them, like those used for corset piercings. Then I’d just use magnetic balls as fasteners screwed on either side of them.

    That way the piercings can be easily removed if need be, and there is much less opportunity for infection and the like.

  8. I managed to keep three dermal anchors in until the fourth year, where they became constantly infected regardless of how I tried to clean and disinfect. Even in an unexposed area along my hip, they got caught constantly on blankets/towels and things you’d never think you’re going to get stuck on. Having these mounted on your arm is a nice novelty, but I give the guy less than a year before the piercings reject after getting constantly torn out.

    A Better route would have been rare earth magnet implants with no external points exposed.

  9. I like the look, but the only issue I’d have is that I’ a mechanic, therefore, small bits of metal would constantly get stuck to it, I’d get it stuck to things when I put my arm in an engine bay, etc. So whilst this would be cool, not for me either.

    1. Yeah that’s really the only annoying thing about this… I have to wear a sports bandage over my arm when I’m metal working otherwise metal fillings coat the magnets and it takes forever to get them off

  10. Thanks Justurn,

    Whilst I have no body art, or a want for it. I am an RFID implantee and find this particular hack quite functional. I am going to do a little further research into this subject, thanks for the inspiration.

    1. I’ve been wanting to get an RFID implant for awhile now. I’m just waiting until my phone can re-write the RFID implant so i can use it for multiple things and change it on the fly

      1. Nah, screw that. It’s one reason I won’t get a tattoo. Too easily identifiable. That, and I can’t think of anything I like enough to have drawn on me for my entire life. The barbed-wire etc is kind of boring.

        There might be times in the future when it’s handy to be anonymous, or at least unidentified. If I die in an apocalypse that’s everybody else’s problem.

        I’ll just wait til the gene tech comes along and I can grow my own magna-doodle on skin just by wanting to. By that point kids’ll be born with organic RFID circuits in their brains.

  11. I prefer a wrist watch to tell me the most current and relevant data that I seek at a glance over digging out my smart phone, though I’m not too keen on the idea of relying on having it stick to implants with magnets.

    there have been times when the strap on my watch has failed and I not notice that something was missing until it was too late. having magnets briefly tugging before letting go I fear would have a greater chance of going unnoticed– yet too secure of an attachment would increase the risk of injury.

    I think a lot of the risks involved with having an accessory such as this really depends on the life style of the individual. White Collar desk job, golf on the weekends, like to keep your hands clean? I would say fairly minimal. Blue Collar work in the industry, more aggressive sprots on the weekend, enjoy DIY and handy work? I would say greater risk to catching on things — losing it, ripping it off, getting stuck in a machine….

    I myself wear a Casio G-Shock due to the sheer amount of abuse my limbs take while working, lifting… I’ve banged it on corners and machinery several times.. sometimes if I have to run wires while crawling through a place where I need my grip and balance, I’ll tie them to my watch strap to pull them along.

    that said, this isn’t quite for me, though I find it greatly interesting and the right track to exploring the possibility of implanted technology that does more than just keeps our hearts going when we get too old to do it ourselves.

    What would really be neat is to see an implant based means of attaching a changeable external hardware, but combine it with a medical breakthrough that could wire it to nearby nerves that someday we may be able to send and receive signals through it and train our brains to be able to control any such device much in the way we flex a muscle or feel a feel. Possibly even use the electrical signals from our nervous system to power small devices.

    –not only for body mounted computers and electronics, but imagine the possibilities for prosthetics or even control of larger machinery (or game consoles). the Evil can use it for behavioral modification as well.

    Have you tried touching a 9V battery to the anchors yet?

    1. I haven’t worn a watch for years, but I think for your needs, the best thing would be a Bluetooth headset. Voice I/O has really come along since Google put it in Android. The interface needs a bit of tweaking to allow voice editing, but that’s just a software issue. Give it a couple of years, for all I know there’s an app that does it already. Voice is the most versatile and probably most useful communication method organic brains have.

    2. Oh, and on the issue of powering implants, the US military, as of a few years ago, did some research into implantable batteries. They were fibres, coated with chemicals that could react oxygen and glucose and provide a small current. They just need putting somewhere with a decent enough blood supply, which is pretty much anywhere, depending on the power you need.

      The idea was to power low-power wireless sensors, for the soldiers own body functions as well as some external sensors. It would be nice to see them with implanted floodlights on their foreheads though. Maybe when organic LEDs get a bit better, to replace the gallium and arsenic. Perhaps the electric eel has something useful for us to learn.

  12. Well, if there is one certainty is that next generations of watches will have other, non compatible, sockets. Just think about how mamy different processor sockets Intel and AMD managed to create. There will be a niche market for adapters!

  13. implants seem a bit extreme. when setae (gecko feet sticking) manufacturing is simplified, it will be a great replacement for wrist straps. then you just need quantum dot cellular automaton manufacturing to become cheap and you can have a true wrist/arm mounted computer that doesn’t feel like you are wearing it.

    1. Have they manufactured them at all? I thought they were still pulling hairs off geckos’ feet and marvelling at how much they could hang from it. Still, imagine your clothes, or better, your engineered skin, being covered with those. It’d turn architecture upside down, you’d be able to live on the walls and ceiling! You could walk to your 25th floor office on the outside of the building!

  14. How about we put a ferro-ceramic cap on the implant and magnets on the watch? No more problems with change, credit cards metal filings, etc.
    Myself, I don’t own a timepiece as I am always late anyway.

  15. After learning that silicone sticks painfully well to the hair on my arm after being clumsy with the gun one day at work… i guess one could ask why i haven’t sent a write up yet on a less intrusive method of sticking things on my body.

    Go on, ask me to write something up…

  16. This is pretty cool. Never heard of implanting magnets. However, with all of this being cool and all, isn’t it a little bit unsafe and the person probably will get some kind of blood cancer. Magnetic fields plus Hemoglobin (moving iron) equals electric field which I would bluntly assume neither is really good for the human body?!?!?!

    Anyway, looks really cool but please be careful.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.